The UK’s chief science adviser was speaking to the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee. He said it was unfair to expect most of the population to fork out for greener vehicles, but stressed there were measures everyone can take. Sir Patrick cited eating less meat, cycling to work and flying less could make “a big difference”.
The expert added that he had been following all three measures – and said they can play a key part in helping the Government to meet its 2050 net zero goal.
Sir Patrick said: “It’s all very well to talk about buying an electric car, but it’s totally impossible for the vast majority of the population.”
It comes after the Government brought forward its ban on new petrol and diesel cars to 2030, in a move that appears to entice Britons to make the switch to electric.
And sales have been booming.
Electric vehicles enjoyed a record year in 2021 against a market that was 28.7 percent below pre-Covid-19 levels.
More battery electric vehicles (BEV) were sold than over the previous five years combined (2016-2020), with 190,727 registrations, while plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) made up 7 percent or 114,554 cars.
This means that 18.5 percent of all new cars registered in 2021 can be plugged in.
Sir Patrick said a reduction in the cost of electric vehicles and an improvement in charging infrastructure were benefiting the UK.
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“I think we should stop viewing net-zero as a cost, and start viewing it as an investment.”
Sir Patrick also warned that global warming will kill more people than the pandemic if “behavioural changes” are not made now.
It comes after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) aid that the 1.5C limit on global warming set in the Paris Agreement was likely to be breached within a few decades.
Climate experts say that swift action is now needed to avoid a catastrophe.